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Scientists Develop “Superior” Plant-Based Insulin That Can Be Taken Orally

Scientists at the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) have used lettuce to develop plant-based insulin that could provide a cheaper and safer alternative to insulin delivered by injection. Insulin injections are currently vital for many diabetic patients, but they can cause the hormone to reach the bloodstream too quickly, resulting in low blood sugar. Additionally, clinical insulin lacks one of the three peptides found in natural insulin. Developed at UPenn’s Daniell lab, the plant-based insulin contains all three peptides, with research suggesting that it behaves very similarly to the natural hormone. It is made by blasting human insulin genes through lettuce cell walls, where they become integrated into the plant’s genome. When the lettuce has grown, it is freeze dried and ground so that it can …